JOURNEY OF ALEJANDRO JODOROWSKY
(Park Street Press; 2005/08)
One of several autobiographical volumes written by the Chilean-born, Paris-based
writer/filmmaker/spiritual guru Alejandro Jodorowsky, and presently the only one
to be translated into English. THE SPIRITUAL JOURNEY OF ALEJANDRO JODOROWSKY
focuses on Jodorowksy’s initiation into Zen Buddhism, and you can be sure the
contents, incorporating hallucinations, surrealism and perverse sexuality, are
very Jodorowskyian. In other words, this is a wild, kaleidoscopic memoir that’s
far from the dry and conservative account you might expect from anybody else.
It’s a valuable resource for adherents of Eastern spirituality, but is also
indispensable for Jodorowsky fanatics like myself.
There’s scant detail here on Jodorowsky’s films or graphic novels, much less
his childhood and adolescence. It begins with Jodorowsky meeting the Japanese
master Ejo Taketa in late sixties Mexico and becoming his disciple. The
relationship lasts for years, with Taketa teaching Jodorowsky the importance of
Koans--for the uninitiated, Koans are enigmatic questions posed by Zen masters
for their disciples to meditate on (sample: “What is the sound of one hand
But that only covers a portion of the book, which also contains a chapter on
Jodorowsky’s encounters with the surrealist painter/writer Leonora Carrington,
who speaks in (seemingly) nonsensical riddles. Another covers his brief
dalliance with a Mexican actress known as The Tigress, who initially befriends
but then inevitably turns on him. Most memorable is a recollection of his
sexual courtship with Reyna D’Assia (the daughter of the famous spiritualist
Gurdjeff), who’s mastered the art of bringing men to orgasm by contracting her
vaginal muscles, and who claims Jodorowsky’s problems stem from “the pain of
having a mother with a mute vagina.”
Other highlights include an arrogant American motorcycle rider who gets his
ass kicked by Taketa for disrespecting the power of Koans, a recollection of how
Ms. Carrington pissed off the late Luis Bunuel by decorating the white walls of
his bungalow with menstrual blood handprints, and a sustained meditation session
that becomes a torturous hallucinatory journey.
The concluding chapter consists of various anecdotes that illustrate how
Jodorowsky has used the teachings of his Zen masters in his day-to-day life.
They include brief accounts on the making of
THE HOLY MOUNTAIN,
SANTA SANGRE and a never-filmed adaptation of
DUNE, as well as a summary of Jodorowsky’s decades-long conflict with producer
Allen Klein, who withheld Jodorowsky’s early films from circulation until the
two finally reconciled in 2004. The final page, appropriately enough, is an
advertisement for Jodorowsky’s films on DVD.
What’s never in doubt here is Jodorowsky’s intense commitment to his
spirituality. It’s an integral component of all his films and graphic novels,
and this entertaining book proves that this spiritual content, in opposition to
those critics who claim otherwise, is pure and genuine.